Pérouges is an amazing village near Lyon in eastern France. It’s a perfectly preserved, walled medieval town without a power line or neon light to be found. It was a booming textile center, particularly linen weaving, until the end of the 18th century. When roads and railways passed Pérouges by, the village began to die. The population went from about 1,500 to under 500. The buildings were literally tumbling down until the mayor took a bold step in 1911. He wrote a letter to the residents of Lyon and asked them to help preserve the architectural heritage of their neighbor. Due to the generosity of the Lyonnais, Sleeping Beauty began to come back to life. Today, it’s a tourist destination; the weaver’s simple, stone cottages line the lanes within the walls. A local specialty, the galette – like a thin sugar cookie – is sold from various tiny shops, right from their windows. It is listed as one of The Most Beautiful Villages of France. I visited there in 2005, when I took these pictures.
Today’s expression, remettre sur les rails (ruh-met-ruh sir lay rye) means “to be put back on the rails.” The village that the railroad sidelined was put back on track through the kindness of the neighbors at the end of that same line.